I am so thrilled that you use this blog as a resource for photography tips. For those of you who are newer to the site, I am a professional photographer by training (with a Masters from SCAD) and have been working in the field ever since. I love that this blog allows us to shoot what we feel most passionately about and it is such a pleasure to work on it, thanks to you all! I also love helping teach about photography and would love to hear more about what you’re eager to learn — I am an open book and wish to enable each and every one of you to take your best photographs yet. I had a lot of questions yesterday after our 2017 round up and so wanted to gather everything that we have produced so far in one place for you so that you can dive in and then let me know what else you might wish to know. We did do a Q&A last summer which covered some reader questions, let me know if there’s any more photography tips you’d like to learn!
Here are a few tutorials on how to shoot and figure out what you’re doing in the moment. It might be best to start with 5 ways to maximize your photoshoot, and then to move on to this post about how to shoot in challenging conditions, understanding light, and how to photograph all day long . Any photographer will tell you that it’s best to shoot as close to sunrise or sunset as possible for the most flattering, golden light but we know it’s not always possible and that tutorial covers a bit more on shooting all day long. This post covers some composition basics for eye popping instagram posts!
I know I am a bit behind the ball getting this highlights of 2017 post out so late; truth is, I didn’t think to sum up our past year because we have been busy planning for 2018. I so loved reading everybody else’s round-ups though, and I thought it might be fun to share some of our highlights and unseen footage from this past year, particularly as this year was our first on the blog and it’s great to see a bit of an evolution and review all the types of topics we covered !
We kicked off the year at Palmetto Bluff (just a few hours south of us) with our new friends who had just moved to town! It was amazingly warm in January and such fun to cruise around on bicycles and explore.
I didn’t launch this blog until April but before then, I released a series of Fine Art Photographs. We started with a series of flower studies in pinks and peaches and were blown away by the response.
We enjoyed lots of warm weather earlier in the year, and were lucky to spend much of our winter outside in beautiful balmy air and sunshine. Charleston in the spring is my absolute favorite, there’s always something in bloom!
We headed to Harbour Island to create our second Fine Art series in March. We stayed at the Ocean View Club (which we loved and hope to head back to this spring).
I believe that a bedroom should be a sanctuary. We try to make ours the most peaceful room in the house, set up for total relaxation. For us, this means lovely, cozy bedding chock full of pillows, great books on the nightstand, photos of family, as much natural light as we can muster, and the bare minimum of technology.
As a child, among the grownups – when the conversation turned to bedding linens (as it surprisingly frequently did), the highest praise was always reserved for Matouk. I quickly realized that one brand stood alone as the benchmark against which all others are measured. When the time came for a freshen up of our bedroom there was only one name in my mind.
I remember our first Matouk pieces which were given to us by my Aunt who monogramed towels for Christmas the year we were married. They were our most treasured linens; we brought them out on special occasions and when guests were coming over to have dinner in our out in our one bedroom one bathroom apartment. We still have them and use them as often as possible, they are luxurious and long lasting.
Selecting our bedding was tough because there are so many collections which I love. Ultimately, the scalloped edge of the Butterfield is my favorite. They are subtle and remind me of my childhood in England. I knew a whole bed of lavender was a reach for my husband but the subtle edges against the light blue diamond pique make for a peaceful, soft bed. I think it’s a highly personal decision but what’s so great about Matouk is that you can ring their showroom and they can help you make a great selection to ensure all goes well together.
We have road tested these sheets for a couple of cycles now, and honestly they are everything that I dreamed they would be. Bedtime is earlier than ever and the snooze cycle runs those extra few loops – each morning feels that little bit more like the weekend.
Hi! First, just want to quickly say that I was so grateful for all of your questions on our Instagram last week. We would love to help play a small part in your photography journey, so please do let me know what we can do to be helpful. Photography is one of those things which can be quite frustrating to learn — the sight you have in front of you doesn’t always translate to the image the way that you wish it to, and then when you nail it one time, it’s hard to repeat if you don’t understand the reasons it worked in the first place. I will definitely be running more tutorials to try to simplify the process and help you learn how to quickly and efficiently translate your vision into useful, on-brand images which will help grow your business or help you achieve personal goals. For now, here is a link to tutorial on shooting in difficult conditions and I am doing a photography Q&A below!
What the best compact camera that takes the best “Instagram worthy” pictures? I have my own business and want to step up my photography game. I have a professional canon but it’s bulky.
Hi! Ok before I get into some smaller camera recommendations, I would love to know which professional Canon you’re working with? I know that it is so bulky, and that alone was the reason that we invested in some smaller travel gear but, I did find the Canon system to be a really fantastic one to learn on and so it might be worth the extra effort to pull it out and learn the photography fundamentals. Once you get the hang of it, it’s really user friendly and you can do so much with various lenses. Smaller cameras will be strong in one area and weak in another, and a Canon pro system with various lenses will enable you to shoot basically everything: people, product, landscapes, lowlight, etc.
Having said that, I completely understand wanting to use a more discrete camera, especially in public areas. I swear by my iPhone 7+ camera, I use it more than any other and once you get the hang of it and learn the best ways to shoot with it, I find it to be incredibly useful and efficient.
I am sure that this smaller Canon would be a great travel camera. And I also love our Sony, particularly for overhead (flat lay) shots.
Maybe this is basic but, how do you manually get your subject in focus but background is hazy. It looks fine in the camera but on my computer my subject (usually a person) is also kind of blurry too!
Not basic at all! Shooting on a shallow depth of field can both help you achieve this effect and make it tricky to nail your focus. I always set mine using the autofocusing and specify the autofocus point. This will take a bit of searching for depending on which camera system you’re using so it’s worth a google and come back if it’s unclear!
What’s your favorite camera to use while you’re traveling?
I shoot mostly with my Leica M with a 35 mm lens and my iPhone 7+. The Leica is an incredible camera but is tricky to use and a massive investment. The iPhone 7+ camera is quick and amazing and I highly recommend it — it can shoot well in a variety of circumstances, see here.
What’s the best way to get started?! And best camera to get started?
The best way to get started is to shoot a ton and to try not to get too frustrated with yourself when it’s not looking exactly how you want. So much of photography is about light and you will give yourself a huge advantage by practicing your photography around sunrise or sunset when the light is soft, gentle and flattering. I also recommend doing some reading. I loved Jose Villa’s book — while it’s about wedding photography, the principals and style are relevant to all types of photography and I learned a lot through employing his lessons.
Would love to know what equipment you use, especially a smaller travel camera you recommend?
Can you use generic lenses with branded cameras? (Particularly Olympus Pen). I’ve recently got into photography for my blog and am looking at two new lenses but they are so expensive!!!
First, let me just say that you should consider lenses great investments. If you take great care of them, they hold their value because while cameras get replaced as technology improves, a good lens does not and can usually be re-sold for close to the value you paid! Lenses make ALL THE DIFFERENCE and can turn a mediocre photo into an amazing, high-quality image.
But, yes! You can use generic lenses for all manufacturers. I don’t have much experience with them, but I know that some are considered to be classic lenses, often for specific jobs that the primary manufacturers don’t cater well to.
Bear in mind that generic lenses do not always offer better value if you are compromising on quality and compatibility with the highest functions of your new dslr.
I would use a trusted source to find out which lenses are considered worth investing in. I like this article from Adorama.
My general advice on lenses is to use prime lenses, the best quality you can afford, and to invest time getting really confident with it, rather than upgrading to the next lens as a quick fix, new gear often takes a long time to perfect!
I would love to know top tips for shooting in low light!
I use high ISO to shoot in low light. I also love video lights and flash, but getting a camera that shoots well in low light is key. Depending on which camera you’re using, the ISO can go pretty high and get that lovely glowy grainy feeling I adore. Pro cameras definitely perform better here. If it’s too grainy, you can add back some ‘luminance’ in Lightroom to soften the image.
Thank you guys so much for writing in for this photography Q&A! Let me know if/what I left out in the comments below and I’ll be right back to you!
Martha’s Vineyard is very special to me. I have been visiting the Island every summer since I was 13, and Will and I met and married there. We spent a week in August visiting family and I wanted to share some of our favorite spots, old and new! There are three main towns on Island, Vineyard Haven, Oakbluffs and Edgartown as well as “up island” which is much more rural and spread out but where some of the most beautiful beaches are. Our family home is outside of Vineyard Haven so that’s where we spend most of our time but I also love Edgartown and we go up island most days. It is surprisingly spread out, and in the August traffic, it can take an hour or so to get between towns. My favorite time of year to visit is the fall. September and October have the most beautiful weather with less crowds and the sea is still warm enough to swim in. I created this Martha’s Vineyard guide so you can visit some of my favorite spots!
In my opinion, Edgartown is the most picturesque with traditional New England white wash or shingle houses, rows of lavender and periwinkle hydrangeas and lots of American Flags out front (definitely very easy to snap pictures in). It sits right on the harbor and it’s lovely to watch all the boats going by (you can charter a sail boat out of here). It’s worth strolling both in town and through the residential streets for the beautiful houses. There is also a lighthouse with fantastic views of the harbor and a hotel across the street with a porch for sipping a cocktail. While I spend less time in Edgartown in August (just due to logistics), it is one of my favorites to visit and I wouldn’t miss the shops along the harbor. I love the new shop Edgar which sells great summer clothes, from kaftans to ripped jean shorts to cute bikinis. I bought two swim suit coverups here for our trip to St. Barth’s. I also love getting lost at Portobello Road, a very fun and eclectic book store — a great place to get lost. There is an ice cream store called Scoops and the best lobster roll in town is on the corner — the shoestring fries are fantastic! There is a restaurant which I haven’t tried yet but which I am dying to go to (it has been booked for private events on the nights we could have visited), it is called The Covington and it’s farm to table. I have not stayed in Edgartown but the Hob Knob looks divine and has great reviews! I should also note that Will and I live out of Morning Glory farm which is just outside of Edgartown. We get all of our produce there but particularly love their prepared salads, quiches, pies, crumbles and fresh bread. The chocolate chip cookie is the best I have ever had.
If you are spending the day in Edgartown, it’s worth zipping up to Menempsha for sunset. Menempsha is an old fishing village (and actually probably has the best lobster rollls on Island — try Larsen’s!) which is very picturesque and well placed for a sunset views. It has lots of little dives where you can get wonderful fresh seafood and great things like fried clams. For a more formal sit down, there’s the Homeport or just before you get to Menempsha there’s a great restaurant called the Beach Plum Inn. Memempsha is a dry town so BYOB!!! It is totally crushing to sit down to dinner ready for a glass of wine only to realize you were supposed to bring it yourself and the closest liquor stores are twenty minutes away.
I love being up island. Middle road is my favorite to drive down, it is lined with stone walls and fields of grazing cows and sheep and occasional views of the sea breaking beyond — so beautiful. Allen Farm is where we photograph most of our weddings and is stunning. The event side isn’t open the the public but you can peek over the gate and across the street there is a lovely little shop. My favorite beaches, and the most wild and wavy, are up here en route to Aquinnah which sits at the top of the Island and also offers fantastic sunset views and is worth walking up to. I often stop at the Chilmark store for a slice of pizza (the vegetable of the day is my favorite) and some water for the beach. And, in the off season, Chilmark chocolates is great fun and makes for good presents to take home.
We just discovered Grey Barn this year which is an amazing property. There is a farm stand which sells meat raised on the farm, as well as delicious cheeses (which have made it all the way to Brooklyn), vegetables and raw milk all packaged with such chic branding. The property itself is like something out of a modern fairy tale, the gardens are so well designed and we loved looking at all the baby animals (like ducklings) with the baby too.
Last but not least in our Martha’s Vineyard guide is closest to home, Vineyard Haven. We live out of Blissed Out, the local smoothie shop (I love the strawberry patch smoothie with added protein which is probably a smoothie for children but it is delicious!) and Mocha Motts for coffee. Also not to be missed is Bunch of Grapes (bookstore), the Black Dog (chocolate bomb is a great dessert), the Net Result for fresh seafood and sushi, Brickyard (eclectic homewares), the bike rental store on 5 corners, the Larter for local meats and sandwiches, Gannon and Benjamin (incredible wooden sailing boat makers and you can charter them), and sunsets at West Chop. Perhaps my favorite discovery of the summer though was the new store Magnetic North which sold everything from beautiful watercolors to kaftans to cashmere. I absolutely love love love this shop and the cafe behind and am drawing major inspiration from the owner Maggie’s incredible taste! Pictured below is the Larter and then Magnetic North followed by scenes from the harbor and a G&B Sailing boat.
Martha’s Vineyard style celebrates natural beauty and is casual cool and relaxed if not a bit etherial. Here is a peek at my MV uniform which includes Barbour, Hunter boots, cozy sweaters and feminine dresses. Hope you enjoyed this Martha’s Vineyard guide!
Will and I met and married on Martha’s Vineyard so it is a very special place to us (check our our Martha’s Vineyard guide here). We had our first date here on a dock! I have been coming here every summer since I was 13 (thanks to my step mother) and Will sailed here on a wooden boat. We bumped into each other on a sailing trip back in 2011 and were married shortly thereafter. Needless to say, this Island is very special to us. We traveled up on Friday and celebrated our baby’s first birthday on Saturday — can’t quite believe how quickly this year has zipped by. Some of you might have seen my emotional slideshow on Instagram stories! The baby came up with us when he was 5 weeks old but it’s so different now that he’s aware of his surroundings and we can show him the sea, the dog, and everything else.
Being here as a family makes me feel very grateful; spending time here always reminds me of our whirlwind romance. Will and I had our first date on this dock. We stayed up talking until 5 a.m. and a comet flew overhead (I thought it was a bomb) which enhanced the magic of the night and the feeling of serendipity. These summer nights are my absolute favorite. Once the sun sets, the stars overhead are incredible and you can lie gazing at them for hours. We always make a huge effort to spend time here, the dock the perfect spot for a date after the baby has gone down — with a baby monitor of course!
The nippy night air is the perfect reprieve from the southern humidity and we are so enjoying the crisp sunny days up here. I even went for a run! Needing a sweatshirt when the sunsets is the best, and wanting a blanket on top to wrap up in is heavenly!! I love the new fall collection from Serena & Lily and had trouble selecting my favorites but these light blue and brown alpaca blankets are the perfect cozy additions to cozy up on a chilly night. Even Buster, my father’s dog, cuddled under the blankets with us on the dock!
I’m looking forward to showing you more of why we love this Island so much, and sharing our favorite spots and things to do — only if I can tear myself away from evenings like this which are my absolute favorite!! xx